RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky put four scorers in double digits Wednesday night and won its 13th consecutive home opener in McBrayer Arena, 81-65 over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
"Our 1-3-1 zone was very effective both halves," Coach Jeff Neubauer said. "It created quite a few turnovers (18) for us ... and allowed us to run out and score in transition.
"We definitely want to be a transition team. When you get a finger on a ball or you get a steal, it really allows you to get some easy ones in transition."
Spencer Perrin, a 6-foot-6 post player from Danville, led the Colonels (2-2) with 20 points and six rebounds. Willie Cruz came off the bench to score 18 points and grab five boards, playing 24 minutes without a turnover.
Josh Daniel added 13 points and Jeff Johnson had 10 as EKU shot 31-for-60 (51.7 percent).
Justin Stommes, EKU's pre-season all-conference pick, made his season debut after sitting out three games because of a violation of team rules. He was held to three points on 1-for-7 shooting, but had five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals versus one turnover.
SIUE (0-3), which will join the Ohio Valley Conference basketball race next season, was led by Corey Wickware with 16 points.
Nikola Bundalo, a 6-10, 240-pound senior from Serbia, had 15 points and five rebounds, although foul troubles limited him to 20 minutes of play. Michael Messer scored 11 points.
Eastern led 36-33 at halftime, although SIUE shot 52 percent (13-for-25).
Perrin was not worried.
"We knew our defense would come together and we would find a way to stop them," he said. "We've got a great coaching staff that will help us try to shut it down."
Wickware's baseline drive for a reverse layup tied the game at 42 with 17:42 left.
The Colonels met that challenge with an 8-0 run.
Daniel scored a back-door layup, assisted by Jeff Johnson. Joshua Jones crashed the boards for a stick-back of a Daniel miss. Daniel sank two free throws. Johnson nailed a jumper from just beyond the free-throw line.
Messer scored the next five points to pull the Cougars to within three, but they came no closer.
EKU, 13-for-29 from the floor in the first half, amped to 18-for-31 from there.
"In the second half, I think our guys did a better job on the offensive end, getting the shots we wanted," Neubauer said. "In the first half, we were probably a little bit too anxious offensively."
Cruz said he was more proud of his turnover line (0) than his points (18).
"I knew this game was going to come as far as individual-wise," he said. "It's obviously a team effort but, from an individual standpoint, I knew that the hard work would pay off, and my teammates found me for easy buckets."